How to Know when Your Child
Needs Residential Treatment
by Jody Swarbrick, Special Children @
http://About.com, April 30, 2003
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is an Understatement"
Many of us are coping with kids who exhibit challenging
behaviors. Despite the headaches of parenting; we as parents
want to do everything that we possibly can to help our child.
But when is enough, just that, enough? One of the most difficult
and heartbreaking decisions a family can make is to decide that
residential treatment is needed for their child.
How we come to that decision depends on several factors. It's a
decision that must be determined by a team of individuals
including the child's therapist, psychiatrist, child welfare
worker, school faculty, and family. A number of conditions must
be considered in order to find appropriate treatment. Most
importantly, we must come to the realization that we cannot
provide the intense treatment that our child needs.
Does My Child Need In-Patient Treatment?
"Red flag" behaviors and must be taken seriously.
How are the behaviors affecting the
Does he have a diagnosis that
seriously affects his ability to remain stable in the family
Has the family exhausted all
resources, such as; counseling, therapy, and respite?
Is the child verbally or physically
Is the child a threat to himself or
Is the child out of control?
Does the child show excessive
behaviors in the area of stealing and lying?
Is the child a runaway?
Does the child accept
responsibility for his actions?
Does the child show remorse?
Is the child overly interested in
violence or fires?
Is the child self-abusive or
expressed suicidal remarks?
Does the child have difficulties in
the school setting?
Is the child cruel to animals?
Is the child using drugs and/or
Does the child isolate himself from
Is the child secretive or
Is the child in trouble with the
Once a decision
is made to seek residential treatment, a number of steps are
typically taken to assure adequate treatment.
When locating a facility, you need to find one that specializes
in the age range and intellect level of your child. An
application, family history, medical, and school records will be
required by the treatment center.
Once a facility is located and your child is accepted, there may
be a waiting list. If the behaviors are severe and an immediate
placement is needed; you will need to look at temporary options,
such as; foster care, hospitalization in a psychiatric ward, or
placement in a detention center.
When an opening becomes available, you and your child will meet
with the treatment staff in order to create a program that will
meet the needs of your child. At this point, the child will be
admitted. You will be included in all decisions that pertain to
your child's treatment as the primary goal during treatment is
reunification of the family. It is crucial to keep
communication open with your child, thus visits and phone calls
If your private insurance will not cover the expenses, you will
need to work with the child welfare system in your state. Income
guidelines are applicable. In many instances, families are
required to give up custody of their child to the welfare
system. If this is the case, a court hearing will be held, and
your child will be deemed a "child in need of assistance."
Giving up custody does not mean that you give up your rights to
Coping with Guilt
If you have reached this point; it is essential that you
understand that treatment is the optimum option for your child.
After struggling for so long with a difficult child; don't be
surprised if you feel a sense of relief. It's not unusual to
feel guilt or question your parenting skills. This is a typical
reaction; don't be afraid to express your feelings. Do talk to
the therapist. Join a support group. Most importantly, remember
that your child's best interests are the primary focus of